Bloodborne is a Souls game and that means it’s hard, incredibly hard. It’s brutal and unforgiving. It’s not immediately accessible and it all but requires players to really understand and learn the ins and outs of it. Patience and perseverance are mandatory requirements to play this game. It might sound like a chore to play but Bloodborne is fair. Few other games treat you like you’re a sentient human being. If you’re open enough to it you will undoubtedly find a game that will grip you from start to finish and hold onto you long after it’s done.

Bloodborne (19)

While it seems as though there might be no real story in Bloodborne apart from the player knowing that he or she is a hunter that needs to kill beasts, the truth of the matter is that just like everything else in the game, it’s all obfuscated. Those new to Souls games may have a hard time coming to grips with this type of storytelling, but once you start reading into things, talking to NPCs and examining items, you’ll start to slowly piece together just how twisted the world of Bloodborne really is.

Take your time playing this game as the darkness runs deeper than you know and you’re going to want to dive head first into the misery to truly appreciate what is happening. I was taken aback by some of the things I discovered in the town of Yharnam and Yarhar’gul by some of the NPCs and what is really great about it all is that they’re all optional and completely missable, making their discovery all the more meaningful. So unless you actually make an effort to figure out the story, you’ll never really know the truth.

01

Gameplay in Bloodborne is unlike anything else featured in previous Souls games. The foundation feels somewhat similar, which might ease veterans into the game but it is by no means familiar. In previous titles, players were encouraged to play more cautiously, guarding one’s self with a shield and waiting for that perfect opportunity to strike. In Bloodborne however, the game nearly forces you to constantly be on the offensive, relying much more on reflexes and timing than careful planning. To complement this new style of gameplay, the controls and core mechanics have seen a major overhaul with rolling turning into zippy sidesteps when locked on, the shield being replaced with a stun-inducing gun and the introduction of morphing weapons called Trick Weapons to constantly change up your playstyle. There is even a new mechanic that allows you to recover lost health for a short period of time if you manage to retaliate and attack the enemy in time.

Despite the faster nature of combat this time around, it still feels tight and responsive, more so than any game in the series. Sidestepping and zipping around the battlefield is extremely satisfying, but don’t get carried away though as every dodge and attack consumes stamina which recharges over time. Attacks are still broken down into light and heavy attacks with the heavy attack now being able to charge up for extra damage. While the combat and its combos are still pretty basic, it’s the weapon morphing that makes things interesting this time around.

02

Every weapon has two forms and with the touch of a button you’re instantly able to switch between them at any time, even mid combo. For a large portion of my playthrough I used a weapon called the Threaded Cane. The cane acts as a normal sword that deals in fast if not weak attacks but changes into a blade-covered whip in its alternative form. Situational awareness is ever important in not only knowing where and how to move but also which form of your weapon you need to use. It’s a thoughtful process that requires you to think ahead while dealing with the current situation at hand and it leads to some of the most intense and nail-biting combat scenarios I have ever experienced – especially in the boss battles.

There are not as many weapons to be found as there are in other Souls games but that doesn’t mean that customization lacks depth because of that. Every weapon feels much more fleshed out this time around and really leads to some interesting and varied playstyles. For instance, playing with the Stake Driver has you going in for some tense, close quarter combat which makes snappy decisions all the more important as opposed to one of the other weapons with more range. You’re also able to augment weapons with blood gems (given that you’ve increased their levels appropriately using bloodstone shards) that add an array of different modifiers and buffs. Then you have Runes which you can equip that grant different effects such as gaining more Blood Echoes as well as using temporary modifiers that adds an elemental effect to weapons.

Bloodborne (18)

Character progression remains the same as in previous games. Souls have been replaced with Blood Echoes, which acts as a currency to not only level up your character but to also purchase items and weapons from the vendor. You can use them to increase individual stats in the hub world called Hunter’s Dream that not only affect your character’s overall abilities but also dictate which weapons you can use. Stat bonuses and weapon scaling is still present in this game too. Blood Echoes, like Souls, can also be lost should you die. They can be retrieved at the spot where you died but should you fall again, those Blood Echoes are lost forever.

Online Functionality remains largely the same as before. Players are still able to leave notes for each other which are either incredibly useful or deceptively misleading, but it’s all part of the experience. Players are also able to summon others into their game to tackle one of the many baddies in Jolly cooperation. New to Bloodborne however is the presence of the Bell Maiden. When you start a co-op session a Bell Maiden spawns somewhere in your game that acts as a conduit which summons invaders into your world. This adds an incredible sort of strategy and risk to your session. Do you want to co-op at the risk of being invaded or do you want to hunt the Bell Maiden together with your partner before you get invaded or do you just all together take the plunge and fight off those invading your game? It’s an absolutely brilliant mechanic that really changes the nature of the game and online play.

Bloodborne (21)

PVP is present and accounted for and it’s quite the beast; if you’re fighting a worthy opponent. At this point in time PVP is a bit unbalanced as it’s a bit of a slog to fight someone who constantly ends up healing themselves. It’s much easier to use a healing item this time around due to your nimble movement, so matches tend to be drawn out a bit. Though it may seem unfair, it’s up to you to put that pressure on your opponent and just like combat in the main game, you have to be aggressive – and once you start to charge forward more often, PVP becomes a blast. PVP, like co-op, relies on a finite resource called Insight which you’re able to replenish in a number of ways, so don’t worry too much about running out of it.

New to Bloodborne are special, procedurally -generated areas called Chalice dungeons. These are sort of challenge stages that you can tackle alone or with friends and offer a nice supplementary distraction when you want to take a break from the main game. These dungeons are rife with traps and incredibly aggressive enemies, so be careful when attempting to venture into these areas as they are by far some of the most challenging scenarios you’ll find in the game.

Bloodborne (22)

Bloodborne is one of the most beautiful games on the PS4 right now. It might not be the most technically outstanding game that comes anywhere close to the looks of something like The Order 1886, but rather it’s the art style that sets it apart from so many games. The gothic and derelict look is so authentic and so fully realized that you’d you be hard pressed to find a similar game in style to rival it.

The immersion is only intensified by the awesome sound direction. The distant ring of a clock tower or the subtle bustling of the wind instils a sense of beauty and wonder to the world while the disgusting roars and sharp cries of beasts makes you fearful to take another step forward. I clearly remember entering Yarhar’gul for the first time, something that left me utterly breathless. The gentle but intense music and scary environment just blended so well together to create an instantly memorable location. Unfortunately there are some occasional frame rate inconsistencies and loading times are extremely long, and while they are annoyances, I found them to do little to actually hamper the overall experience.

04

While it’s certainly not for everyone, Bloodborne is amazing. It’s beautiful and brutal and it actually loves the player more than it lets on. It wants you to succeed. It wants you to keep getting better at the game. It wants you to explore the world and uncover all its secrets.

 

Last Updated: March 31, 2015

Bloodborne
The brutal difficulty is a huge part of the experience, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all the game is about. If you take the time to really get lost in the game, you’ll feel the pride and love that From Software has poured into it - and maybe at the end of it all, you’ll end up loving it too
9.5
Bloodborne was reviewed on PlayStation 4
92 / 100

77 Comments

  1. No score? Umar, why?

    Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 13:05

      I don’t know actually, I did score it lol

      Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 13:09

      Score is up 🙂

      Reply

  2. Spathi

    March 31, 2015 at 13:05

    I don’t see a score. Am I actually supposed to read what you’ve written? GTFO! 😛

    Great review! Makes me want the game more and more!

    Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 13:07

      Gah! GO READ IT 😀 Thanx 🙂

      Reply

  3. Mistake Not...

    March 31, 2015 at 13:06

    Buy PS4 for Bloodborne
    Play Bloodborne
    Destroy PS4 out of frustration
    Repeat

    Reply

    • WitWolfy

      March 31, 2015 at 13:33

      Your not playing it right then…

      Reply

      • Mistake Not...

        March 31, 2015 at 13:50

        Yeah, but seriously though, it’s difficult but not infuriating. Starting out was quite tough but I’m enjoying it a lot more now.

        Reply

        • WitWolfy

          March 31, 2015 at 13:53

          Great this game is quite tricky.. Watch a few Youtube tutorials vid helped me quite a bit

          Reply

  4. Lord Chaos

    March 31, 2015 at 13:06

    TL:DR

    Now to go read. 😛

    Reply

  5. Hammersteyn

    March 31, 2015 at 13:07

    That a-hole in the wheelchair scared me half to death. And then I died.

    Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 13:08

      I thought it was an NPC. Let’s just say his dialogue involved lead to my face.

      Reply

      • Sageville

        March 31, 2015 at 15:10

        I found this Huntress with one of those plague masks, I didn’t realize she was attackable, don’t attack her, she takes it kinda personal….

        Reply

        • Umar

          April 1, 2015 at 09:59

          Rule of thumb, plague doctor masks = instant attack . Never trust the mask, even in real life 😀

          Reply

  6. RinceThis

    March 31, 2015 at 13:14

    Where’s the score!? How am I supposed to know if the game is worth it?! Metacritic! I call foul!

    Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 13:15

      Fixed 🙂

      Reply

      • RinceThis

        March 31, 2015 at 13:43

        It’s too late! This gross mistake has called into question the integrity of Lagz!

        Reply

        • Kensei Seraph

          March 31, 2015 at 14:10

          Yes, they’re supposed to be using gifs to indicate the scores!

          Reply

  7. Jonah Cash

    March 31, 2015 at 13:25

    Great review Umar!! Well written and very insightful!! Happy to see a PS exclusive finally getting unilateral praise!!

    Reply

  8. Melasco

    March 31, 2015 at 13:25

    I love this game! Best game on PS4 so far in my opinion.

    Reply

  9. Hammersteyn

    March 31, 2015 at 13:28

    I love the setting so far and the combat is much more aggressive. It
    encourages you to be on the offense even though your mind screams NO

    Reply

    • Kensei Seraph

      March 31, 2015 at 14:09

      That sounds intriguing.

      Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 14:25

      Completely! It’s amazing, honestly. This game forces you to be good. That’s such a rare game design!

      Reply

    • Sageville

      March 31, 2015 at 15:07

      My only issue is the lack of color in the environments…. by design I’m sure… still it’s very noir-ish

      Reply

  10. shan

    March 31, 2015 at 13:30

    10/10. best game ever

    Reply

  11. Thami Afurika-Jin HD

    March 31, 2015 at 13:31

    Grabbing it on Friday!

    Reply

  12. Trebzz

    March 31, 2015 at 13:34

    LG managed to get a real gem with you I must say 🙂 the fact that’s you free and technically a slave means nothing 😛 really enjoyed this man and not tl;dr which I love.

    Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 13:44

      Wha!?..Uhm..LOL Hmm…Thanx for the compliment though 🙂 REALLY appreciate it 🙂

      Reply

  13. HvR

    March 31, 2015 at 13:46

    Come on guys take it easy on Umar, it is hard and takes time to work out out a score of 9.5 if you only have 8 tentacles.

    Reply

  14. Wraith

    March 31, 2015 at 13:51

    What about the negatives?
    * Load times.
    * Failed co-op summoning wastes insight.

    Still loving the game though. Just working up the courage to recover my ‘souls’ from the Blood-Starved Beast…

    Reply

    • Umar

      March 31, 2015 at 14:03

      I mentioned the Load times and I honestly never had that many failed co-op summoning, but thanx for bringing that to light 🙂

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        March 31, 2015 at 14:03

        *thanks

        Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        March 31, 2015 at 14:03

        *thanks

        Reply

        • Umar

          March 31, 2015 at 14:22

          I’m from Cape Town. You’re grammar are means no thing!

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief

            March 31, 2015 at 14:31

            *twitches

        • Sageville

          March 31, 2015 at 15:06

          *Thank’re

          Reply

      • Wraith

        March 31, 2015 at 14:14

        Oh, sorry. I must have glanced over that!

        Reply

        • Umar

          March 31, 2015 at 14:23

          Heh, not a problem 🙂 The summoning issue is a good point though.

          Reply

      • Sageville

        March 31, 2015 at 15:05

        Honestly, I have yet to experience these 40 second load times discussed, personally my longest one has been around 20 seconds…. maybe that comes later….

        Reply

    • Maskmoth

      March 31, 2015 at 14:30

      That Blood-Starved Beast is tough as I could not kill him alone, took me all Sunday with that boss (close to 30 tries). Eventually I decided to ring the bell and wait for another player to come help me (took me 40min wait) but then we killed it the first try (the player was very good, he basically raped that beast while i just kept his attention and dodged his attacks). THAT STILL COUNTS!!!!

      Reply

      • Wraith

        March 31, 2015 at 14:34

        I got decimated in the first encounter, so after that I decided to summon a buddy to take him on. We took him on together and everything was going fantastically. And then I died… Didn’t realise that he poisoned you.

        Reply

      • fred

        March 31, 2015 at 22:21

        try to stay closer to the beasts and bosses in this one and hack away , giving distance for the enemy to attack is what kills you this time around. Build your endurance more than any other stat.

        Reply

      • Darren Peach

        April 1, 2015 at 08:32

        Took me 5 hours to kill him. I also summoned help. Have you been banished yet ? Just run up the stairs, two flights. There is a light there.

        Reply

  15. Admiral Chief

    March 31, 2015 at 13:58

    So, longer than 5 hours then…

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      March 31, 2015 at 15:31

      7 hours, oh wait wrong guy…

      Reply

  16. Lardus-Resident Perve

    March 31, 2015 at 14:38

    Darn you good reviews! I must resist getting a PS4 for this game!

    Reply

  17. Sageville

    March 31, 2015 at 15:08

    Nice review Umar, also not a tentacle or blue hair in sight!

    Reply

  18. silvaring

    March 31, 2015 at 21:24

    One of the most misleading review headlines ever… I was expecting a proper disection of how Bloodborne dumbed down its systems in some ways to reduce its complexity and embrace less number crunchy gamers… but what I got was a copy paste review that could have featured on just about any major site… bummer.

    Reply

    • Umar

      April 1, 2015 at 09:51

      Hmm, in what way do you feel it’s dumbed itself down to reduce complexity?

      Reply

      • silvaring

        April 1, 2015 at 10:03

        This author covers it, although if you’ve played Dark or Demons Souls without handholding and try remember the experience you should see these things for yourself.. http://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/839217-bloodborne-vs-dark-souls-looking-at-whats-better-and-worse-about-bloodborne#comment-1929594655

        Reply

        • Umar

          April 1, 2015 at 10:16

          Thing is right, I’m not really comparing it to previous games in the series. It’s completely understandable and I get where a lot of diehard fans are coming from (I’ve got over 100+ hours in Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls with numerous ng+, not DS 2 though as I think that game is rubbish 😛 ) , but Bloodborne is it’s own game and shouldn’t have to compete with previous titles. Whether it’s dumbed down or less complex is besides the point (it’s not). All the mechanics, all the elements work, and they work WELL, EXTREMELY WELL. Personally, I don’t feel its about dumbing down or pandering to less stat focused gamers (which is not true by the way as Bloodborne is still very stat focused), it’s about the evolution of the series, and I feel From as kept the core foundation of Souls firmly intact while completely changing things up. You may feel it’s copy and paste, but Bloodborne deserves all the praise it’s getting 🙂

          Reply

          • silvaring

            April 1, 2015 at 10:24

            I know what you mean, you want to assess it on its own merits. Its the same reasoning I use when comparing DmC to Demons Souls, I like and respect them both for what they set out to achieve. While those games are separate studios and engines though, Bloodborne largely takes the Souls engine, animation sets, and other design styles. If another studio made Bloodborne it would be seen as a Souls wannabe, even moreso than Lords of the Fallen. In my humble opinion for a Bloodborne reviewer to be fair they have to review not only the game, but the engine itself, and the changes that have been made, which is why I commented in the first place, because I don’t think its fair to review the game in isolation from the series when its built on its ancestors engine to begin with. In the same way you cant look at Souls without looking at Kings Field and Shadow Tower, because they’re also related. Just my advice to you Umar take it as you wish.

          • Umar

            April 1, 2015 at 10:36

            That is a fair point, I take no offense to it, and maybe I should’ve explored the changes a bit more, but they are numerous, and a review can only be THAT long 😉 I still firmly believe that nothing was really compromised in Bloodborne. Things were changed drastically, but I don’t feel it made it any less of a game, even when compared to previous titles. Some might feel it’s dumbed down because it has less stats, but I feel it’s unfair to view that as a negative thing when other aspects of the game have become more intricate…
            But hey!! I do really appreciate you taking the time to comment, I really do 🙂

          • silvaring

            April 1, 2015 at 10:42

            Thanks for your kind reply. I’m actually looking very forward to playing Bloodborne myself, as the last time I did was at Rage 2014 and it was a great experience. Its possible that the combat mechanics and level design will make up for the weak points, and I actually hope thats the case 🙂 If anyone reading this has a PS4 with Bloodborne I will literally pay you if I can come to your place and beat it. My email is silvaring@gmail.com if anyone wants to strike a deal.

          • Ryanza

            April 1, 2015 at 10:44

            Is this how people get killed because of the internet.

          • Umar

            April 1, 2015 at 10:46

            Play it first. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s dumbed down. Once you get hooked on the combat and the other mechanics, you’ll see this game is still everything a Souls fan wants 🙂 Hope you get to play it….without paying someone lol

          • Ryanza

            April 1, 2015 at 10:43

            The review was fine and didn’t need a in-depth breakdown on minor changes between the Souls games and Bloodborne. The differences you mentioned was fine. It’s suppose to be about Bloodborne not about Souls and how the engine differs. The review is fine as it is.
            Well you two going on about shit actually made me read the thing.

            That’s just how Ryanza sees it. Although people don’t like how i see shit.

          • Umar

            April 1, 2015 at 10:49

            Thanx Ryanza, but the fact that this made you read it and you never read it out of your own hurts me…deeply. You just put some DRM on my feels 🙁

          • Ryanza

            April 1, 2015 at 11:15

            No, no. I was going to read it. I wanted to read it. Just needed to find the right time. If it’s long, I like reading it on my phone. I mean, I had to read it before I could comment right. Don’t take it the wrong way. It’s Bloodborne, of course I’m going to read it.

            Oh yes. Now I remember what i wanted to say. Yes, Dark Souls 2 is shit.

          • Umar

            April 1, 2015 at 18:18

            Hehehehe Just Kidding 😀 I still greatly appreciate you taking the time to read it 🙂

  19. fred

    March 31, 2015 at 22:18

    Maybe less items and not as varied in character builds as a souls game , but a masterwork of the art all the same. May still be my best game ever.

    Reply

    • Darren Peach

      April 1, 2015 at 08:33

      The Art Direction is fabulous.

      Reply

  20. guest

    April 1, 2015 at 00:23

    Except it’s not on xbox which means myself and millions of others won’t be buying the game

    Reply

  21. Darren Peach

    April 1, 2015 at 08:27

    Best game this year.

    Reply

    • Umar

      April 1, 2015 at 09:59

      So far, yes 🙂

      Reply

  22. Nick de Bruyne

    April 1, 2015 at 15:09

    While playing Bloodborne for my review, it did this to me. I will never forgive it. Ever. I still think I’m having trouble breathing.

    Reply

    • Umar

      April 1, 2015 at 18:49

      Roflol!!! Damn. Outta nowhere! Don’t worry. I’ve probably suffered internal damage as well

      Reply

  23. Mathias

    April 1, 2015 at 17:18

    I know it’s too early to say it, but so far, lovng the Souls games the way I do, this is becoming my GOTY. Playing slowly, though. Damn work.

    Reply

    • Umar

      April 1, 2015 at 18:20

      Work is not important…Bloodborne is! 😀 but take your time with It and go back to previous areas etc. This game has a ton to offer. And just FYI …. It’s honestly a strong contender for my GOTY as well.

      Reply

  24. CAE9872

    April 17, 2015 at 12:41

    Been really busy @umarbastra:disqus so only just got to read this. Great review as always.

    The Chalice Dungeons – did you find them worthwhile playing? I have heard stories of people saying they don’t really add-up to much except the challenge itself i.e. finding interesting items isn’t where its at for that mode. Any truth in your experience?

    Reply

    • Umar

      April 22, 2015 at 11:08

      I don’t agree with those statements at all. The main game alone is incredibly meaty and wonderful and then we have Chalice dungeons which in all honesty, could’ve easily been DLC. True, the Chalice dungeons are just extra areas that doesn’t have THAT much detail to them, but there are numerous interesting items to be found, just search online to see some of the items STILL being uncovered now that no one can really figure out what to do with them, and I know that is what Souls fans such as ourselves love 😀 Generally though, the dungeons are more like challenge levels but they have some AWESOME bosses and the final boss in the Chalice dungeon is a real treat 😀 There is a lot of lore based around Chalices as well.

      Reply

      • CAE9872

        April 22, 2015 at 11:18

        Great thanks Umar – appreciate the response.

        Reply

        • Umar

          April 22, 2015 at 11:24

          Always 😀 Do it though, nothing to lose. this game is honestly the best, most honest game I’ve played in a long game. Like I mentioned it could’ve been DLC but we get all this content without paying extra.

          Reply

          • CAE9872

            April 22, 2015 at 11:25

            Duly purchased; finishing off Halo Master Chief Collection then am considering either some Souls games or Borderlands completions.

          • Umar

            April 22, 2015 at 11:27

            You get DS 2? I read the BL collection could’ve been a much better port.

          • CAE9872

            April 22, 2015 at 11:41

            OK lets clarify 🙂

            I have all the Souls games on PS3; started Demon’s Souls and then moved on when I killed 3rd boss. Yes, yes, yes I am a wuss. But I so loved that game and WANT/MUST finish it.

            Then Dark 1 and 2 I have not yet started. DS2 on PS4 I don’t have but that can wait until its maybe cheaper.

            Borderlands I own on every console, every version – DONT judge me! I do not yet have the Handsome Collection though…not yet 🙂

            You see my predicament – feel for me!

          • Umar

            April 22, 2015 at 12:43

            LOOOOOOOL that is like a prime example of FWP 😛 Try Bloodborne when you can, as for Borderlands, you seem like a lost cause, you’ve been bitten by the addiction!

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